Friday, August 27, 2010

Hollaback, Dear Friend

Last week my writing professor, personal mentor and dear friend, Bruce Dobler, passed away. There is so much to say about Bruce that I can’t even begin to cover it in a blog. Instead, I’ll share my Bruce defining moment from my decade with him in my life.


Bruce visited Germany, a country he felt deeply connected to, four times during my time living here. Each time he visited, we always found time to spend with each other. The second time he came over, he popped up to Heidelberg where I was living at the time. It was a phase of searching in my life and I was especially thankful for his visit, which I knew would help me get to some answers for myself. We were walking down the main pedestrian street in Heidelberg and deeply discussing why I still wasn’t writing – which he continued to find shocking and disappointing and was the first real conversation we had on each of his visits – when suddenly Bruce started jutting one hip out and then the other. At first I assumed he was in pain from his ongoing medical issues and spun, a little panicky I’ll admit, to help him.

But on second glance I realized Bruce wasn’t in pain and nothing was wrong. Instead, Bruce was dancing. Right there on the middle of a busy street in Heidelberg on a warm day with lots of sun and window shoppers. And Bruce wasn’t just dancing. Man, he was grooving. I knew from stories and pictures that he was an avid swing dancer but I had no inkling of how vividly this small, yet bear-like man with a fluffy tummy and white beard could swoosh his hips, keeping his lower and upper body in rhythm not just with each other but also with the music. Nor could I have imagine how joyfully he could bring his round bearded face, his bushy white eyebrows, his thick fingers and, good lord, even his sandaled feet into play - all on beat and all filled with exhilaration.

Before my laugh could come, before I could understand that moment of real joy - a rare moment of an adult just letting go and letting it jive – it was over. But I will never forget that moment, watching Bruce rock the main street to Gwen Stefani’s Hollaback Girl.

So, here’s to you, Bruce. Thanks for so much.

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